Let’s be brutally honest up front: The Falcons’ receiving corps did not have a great year in 2018. They were seventh in the NFL in drops per Pro Football Focus, and they dropped several passes that turned into interceptions or ruined chances at a score. It was, by any reasonable standard, a real part of why the offense regressed so mightily in 2017. It was behind Steve Sarkisian’s play calling and a little bit of a step back from the offensive line, but it did matter.
Just look at the chart below, which has the Falcons at seventh, right in the neighborhood of some bad passing offenses, which is deeply unfortunate.
So why am I saying in the headline of this piece that it’s likely a fluke? To understand that, you have to look back at 2016, when the Falcons dropped just 11 passes as a team, which was tied for the third-lowest total in the NFL. Julio, who was second in the NFL in 2017 with a number of brutal drops, had just 3 in 2016. In 2015, they had 30 and were in the top ten, and in 2014 they had 23 and were 23rd in the league. What I’m getting at, as you might have guessed, is that these drop totals tend to fluctuate a bit year-to-year, and the uncharacteristically bad drops from Julio in particular probably won’t repeat in 2018.
That’s good news for an offense intent on rebounding, and it’ll be a especially valuable if the Falcons figure things out on the play calling side and add a couple of upgrades at, say, right guard and wide receiver. They’re not that far away from being an elite offense again, however discouraging 2017 might have been.
So that’s worth celebrating, at least. Now let’s get some free agents in the building so we can talk about that.